Car park at the lower end of Polenz Valley or stop Porschdorf – Polenz Valley – Waltersdorfer Mühle and back
A walk along the Polenz River that is especially nice during the hot season.
Distance: 5.8 km (from the Frinzthalmühle car park)
Narrowest point: no restrictions
Accessibility in wet conditions: yes
Transport connections: Nationalparkbahn U28 from National Park Station to Porschdorf, bus line 253 to Porschdorfer Einkehr, or the Bastei-Kraxler to Wanderweg Polenztal, by car go to Frinzthalmühle car park
Parking: Frinzthalmühle car park, free of charge, no separate disabled parking
Refreshments: Waltersdorfer Mühle (snacks)
Your tour starts at the Frinzthalmühle car park. While the deep gorge winds northwards to Hohnstein your path leads into Polenz Valley. Down here the valley is very broad just before the Polenz joins the Sebnitz River. The valley narrows as you move up the valley. Go past the national park welcoming stone and follow the paved track marked with a red point. The path takes you along the river. The signs marking the national park core zone are indicators of especially sensitive natural areas. From time to time you will be able to see some rocks through the dense canopy.
Not far from Waltersdorfer Mühle, on the other side of the river, you can see some remains of a wall to the left. These originated from the last years of the Second World War. Here in Polenz Valley, fuels were to be produced and stored underground under the code name of “Schwalbe III”. Detainees from the Porschdorf district of Gluto – an external part of the Flossenbürg concentration camp – were put here to install the tunnels.
Before reaching Waltersdorfer Mühle cross the sandstone paved bridge over the Polenz River, where you will find numerous views of the rocks of the Brand region. However, after leaving the cycle path the track becomes worse. If you are hungry, there is a chance for refreshments at Waltersdorfer Mühle. The fully accessible part of our recommended tour ends here. For all those who can cope with some rougher terrain on their own or with the assistance of their helpers, we recommend a short detour into Polenz Valley. The rocks of the valley including the famous “Polenztalwächter” lay only a few metres behind Waltersdorfer Mühle.
The Polenz was long known for its fishiness. One of its marvels is the salmon (Salmo salar). Names such as “Lachsbach” (salmon stream) suggest that salmon were once abundant in Saxon Switzerland. But the natural wealth eventually had to face large amounts of pollution – the Elbe River and its tributaries depletetd and in 1935 the last salmon was caught in the Elbe. Because this species has such high demands on its habitat it has become a symbol for previously nearly intact conditions.
After the amounts of pollution were limited and decreased the resettlement programme “Elbelachs 2000” was launched in the region. It has been running since 1994. Until then salmon had been completely extinct in the Elbe and its tributaries.
Salmon eggs from South-West Sweden were used as the foundation of the programme. In 1994, the first salmon breeds were hatched in Langburkersdorf and in 1995 they were placed in tributaries of the Elbe. The joy over their presence is best expressed in the figures of the following observations: On October 26, 1998 experts caught the first spawning salmon that had returned. It weighed over two kilograms and was about 70 centimetres long. Other salmon were observed when crossing the Lachsbach weir in Rathmannsdorf; a total of 27 salmon with a total mass of 69.9 kilograms were caught. The catch consisted of 13 males and 14 females. They have not yet reached their previous numbers but today salmon continually return to the local rivers and streams.